Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Excerpt

Traditionally, Americans are regarded as worshippers of their Constitution -- the basic document that sets up the rules, procedures, and principles of the democratic Republic of the United States. Traditionally, also, Americans are credited or charged, as the case may be, with veneration of "The Founding Fathers" whose words and deeds, like the beads on a rosary, keep believers in touch with their faith. Finally, both friends and critics have remarked the characteristic American penchant for argument and debate, for political oratory, addresses, speeches -- perhaps an expectable trait in a people who take their politics seriously and whose earnestness is a measure of their pride in self-government. "We the people" not only relish political debate, we invade the once-inaccessible committee rooms, troop through the White House corridors and rooms and, passion unslaked, demand periodically that there be "a great debate"!

While part of the above tradition is more legend than fact, there is enough truth clinging to its generalities to provoke the following question. Since all the three interests mentioned converge on Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, why has this invaluable source become out of print, unavailable for teachers, students, lawyers, journalists, commentators, and "we the people" who care? Thousands of books tumble off the presses annually (as they should); but for this work, the root and origin of "the supreme Law of the Land," only the affluent may hope to acquire a copy, and then only if they are lucky. It would be interesting to speculate on how and why this oversight was committed by publishers who are eager to increase their offerings in American history -- but space forbids and happily the issue may now, with the publication of this volume, be termed academic.

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